Flutterby™! : Pick bike lock with Bic pen

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

Pick bike lock with Bic pen

2004-09-15 01:39:22.028924+00 by Shawn 12 comments

Boing Boing links to a BikeForums post that demonstrates how a Kryptonite lock can be opened in a few seconds with an ordinary Bic pen.

[ related topics: Bicycling ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2004-09-15 04:46:36.0795+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yow! I've been watching some of the comments on this on the Tandem@Hobbes list, but had kind of discounted it. Now, after watching the video, I'm... well... damned glad I don't use a U-lock on anything.

#Comment Re: Penjacking made: 2004-09-15 18:04:09.971586+00 by: junkmagnet

This technique has apparently been around for a decade or so (see Google groups), but now the cat's definitely out of the bag. If not with a Bic, then someone can make cheap skeleton key with a custom plastic cyllinder, effectively making circular keyed locks obsolete.

That said, it's now a race between the newly-tooled thieves and bike owners. I'm of the mind that as many people should know about this as possible, since the pool of thieves is smaller than the pool of owners. If it just remains in the blogosphere, then the thieves have a great window of opportunity.

On the way to work today, I saw a few dozen bikes locked up with compromized equipment. How long until they're penjacked?

#Comment Re: [Entry #7368] Re: Penjacking made: 2004-09-15 18:26:03.775407+00 by: Unknown, from NNTP

junkmagnet <prefersanonymity_833@flutterby.com> writes:

> This technique has apparently been around for a decade or so (see
> Google groups), but now the cat's definitely out of the bag. If not
> with a Bic, then someone can make cheap skeleton key with a custom
> plastic cyllinder, effectively making circular keyed locks obsolete.

And those aren't used just on bikes -- vending machines spring to mind, for example. Cutting to the chase and stealing coin eliminates that pesky step where you have to fence the stolen goods to buy the stuff you actually want.

#Comment Hoax? made: 2004-09-15 18:37:38.710073+00 by: td

I have trouble believing this. These gadgets use axial pin-tumbler locks, which are slightly more secure than regular door locks. (Principles of operation are the same, but the picking tools are more elaborate than bent shimstock.) My copy of Tobias ("Locks, Safes and Security, an International Police Reference," a 1400 page doorstop and the standard reference on forensic locksmithing) doesn't mention any such vulnerability. Note that none of the videos show any evidence that the locks weren't already unlocked before the pen was applied.

The standard way to break one of these is to spring it with a car jack.

Or maybe bike-locks have some defect that standard axial locks don't share.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-09-15 21:29:02.433912+00 by: Dan Lyke

It's got me wanting to go buy one and play with it. It does seem somewhat ridiculous to me that you'd be able to use something that simple as your rake, but if the manufacturing tolerances are sloppy then picking one of those locks is roughly the same concept as picking a regular lock, except that you have all of the pins right out and accessible (rather than having to locate them by feel).

The video I saw from that thread convinced me that either someone had modified the lock, or that this works; they did a fairly clear demonstration without apparent cuts that it was indeed locked before the pen trick.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-09-16 06:32:47.444569+00 by: nkane

I just tried it with my Kyrptonite-4 (about 14 years old). I now have a really deformed Bic pen and the lock is still locked. That does not mean the story is false, but if it is true I'd love to see it with my own eyes.

#Comment Another failed trial made: 2004-09-16 16:00:08.952575+00 by: td

When I got home last night I grabbed a BIC from the kitchen counter and tried to apply it to the Kryptonite on my son's bike. The difference in diameters is about 1/16", so it wouldn't fit, let alone turn. Besides, it looks like the keyway is a few hundredths narrower than the shell of the pen.

On reviewing the video, it's pretty clear if you turn the sound up that the guy tests the lock before picking, so I retract what I said above about lack of evidence. It could be fake, good chance it isn't, we're not being told the whole story.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-09-16 17:41:15.388609+00 by: meuon [edit history]

Two attempts on two devices. On the high quality stainless industrial grade 'axial' lock on a small gun safe.. I ruined a couple of plastic pen's, and had to fish out some plastic pieces before I could use the real key again. No luck or even a inkling of one. On the cheap pot metal axial lock on the control panel to my houses alarm system.. It worked on the 3rd attempt of the first pen barrel. I'd post pics, but I dropped my camera Monday while taking pics for a website. My new Sony DSC-F828 should be here tomorrow. I'll re-do and take pics/mpg then.

I think it's a matter of the quality of the lock and the clearances/tolerances of the pins and associated parts, much like picking any lock, you get what you pay for.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-09-16 18:05:12.818128+00 by: crasch

I tried it on an almost-new standard Kryptonite bike lock. Ten minutes of fiddling, and no success. Perhaps if I had tried harder it would've worked. But I suspect that it works best on well-used locks whose tumblers have become a bit worn and loose.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-09-16 23:24:19.207186+00 by: Dan Lyke

Here's an AP article that really adds little to the discussion.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-09-19 18:10:16.485561+00 by: Dan Lyke

An SFGate article that goes a little more in-depth.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-09-23 14:43:12.553066+00 by: Dan Lyke

Kryptonite offers to replace locks